Christian Life/Personal Holiness: May 2007 Archives

It's fascinating that the first time the wandering of the People of Israel in the Sinai peninsula is discuss, it is related as follows:

Exodus 16:1

And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

And it was for some forty years that they wandered in the wilderness of sin. So long that the first generation out of Egypt did not survive to enter the promised land--not even Moses.

Now, we did the Lord rescue a people from Egypt only to send them through a raging desert for forty years and not save a great many who took flight? Why would He act in so perverse a fashion as to half-save a group of people.

The reality is that the people of Israel wandered in that desert because almost as soon as the pillar of cloud and fire vanished, they began to complain and wonder why they had ever left Egypt. They were so confused about what they wanted that they could not have followed God even if He has shown up in person (as, indeed, He did in the person of Moses--not incarnated, but spirit-led).

How similar can I be to this stubborn people. God points the way and I wonder how to find the bar, the brothel, the gambling parlor, the restaurant. What kind of place is He sending us to that doesn't have these minimum niceties of a civilized society?

The chief desire of every person is to find the way home, but sometimes that desire for the comforts of home becomes misdirected into a desire for comforts. The transient and beautiful things of this world look very good to us. They seem to be the comforts of home. But they are mere ghosts of those real things. The realities in the vault that Plato spoke of cast these earthly shadows and so deceive those so ready to be deceived.

I count myself among them: lured by the good things of the world, I am too long diverted from the real Good One. I seek my comfort in those things I can hold and so manage to ignore the fact that I am being held, loved, cared for intensely by the God who loves me.

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Scary Matters of the Spirit


Free will can be a bummer.

Yep. Why doesn't God just wrap us up in bubblewrap and carry us home to be with Him. But the reality is that Love lets one make mistakes. I don't know why it does this--perhaps to prove our own reciprocal love when one returns home with tail tucked between legs; perhaps because that is the only way to learn to love.

Love is agony and sin is so easy because it helps to ease the pain of Love. Love takes endurance and sin takes a short-cut to what one thinks one wants. Thomas Aquinas (I paraphrase here) quite rightly says that the even the sinner is acting on a perceived good. Desire, which points the direction home, often leads us through brambles, briars, swampy tangles, and deserts of self. What looks like a short-cut is a convoluted, involved, messy trail of heartache, sorrow, and self-involvement. All, often, in the name of love. Contra Nietzsche, Christianity is not for the weak following the weak, because love, particularly love in the world he helped to forge, can be horrendously difficult.

But the name of love, the real name, the name whispered through centuries and shouted in Heaven--the real name of love is Jesus. And any action of desire that leads in any other direction is, at best, a fault, and often a sin. Many are so tangled in their sins that they cannot see the way home. This was brought to mind the other day when I read at TSO's about a bunch of Democrat politicians who were castigating the Pope because he dare say that they had excommunicated themselves. They have chosen their way and cannot see.

But they are merely a mirror for me and in that reflection I can see my own waywardness, the standards I insist upon, and if me, then I suspect a great many sinners who do not take the time to look inside and see what has gone wrong.

This is the reason Jesus was always so compassionate toward sinners--"They are like sheep without a shepherd," "Then know not what they do." How true is that of people today? How true is that of me? Do I really see what it is I choose when I make a choice. Do I pause even for a moment in my headlong plunge to destruction?

Oh, how I would pray for the bubble-wrap of God that would preserve me and take me home exactly as God would like me to be. That bubble-wrap, that protection against evil, is the Sacrifice of His Son and it is the outpouring of Love of Father and son that dwells within. Oh, but the glass around that lantern, around that inner fire is begrimed and filthy, darkened by all the ways I have chosen less than the best. But my longing, periodically restored, is that the glass be so cleaned that while it is not the light, it does not interfere with the light's transmission and even participates in the light, becoming light as it allows God's brilliant inner stream to light it up completely.

This is not a fairy tale, but a covenant made in blood. It is not an abstract ideal, but the pervasive and fundamental reality of our faith. God will restore me if only I will turn to Him and say, "Please help." Or, in the words of Brother Lawrence, "See what happens to me if I stray but a little way. Be with me, O Lord."

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Christian Life/Personal Holiness category from May 2007.

Christian Life/Personal Holiness: March 2007 is the previous archive.

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